Written for a Halloween treat and for Crossovers100, prompt #05, outsides.
death (having lost) put on his universe
and yawned: it looks like rain
(they've played for timelessness
with chips of when)
that's yours; i guess
you'll have to loan me pain
to take the hearse,
see you again.
e. e. cummings
You all-of-a-sudden gods,
There's a ghost loose in the long grass!
The woman crossing the street in front of him wasn't a goddess, Shadow was fairly sure of that. What he didn't entirely know was what she was. Lovely and lithe and sleek as a tigress, all sharp claws and teeth hidden behind that beautiful hair and those large, expressive eyes. Not a goddess, or a god's child, but not entirely human either.
"You." Her voice was rich and expressive, and right now she definitely didn't much like him. That was all right. He suspected he wasn't really going to like her, either.
Shadow nodded to her anyway, courteous as his mother had taught him to be and wary of powers as his father and his oath-brother had taught him to be. He would have gone his way perhaps more quickly than originally intended had the woman not gone on to say, "And I'm to help you?"
That froze his feet to the sidewalk, if only for a moment. Shadow turned to face her, cautious not to knock anyone down on the sidewalk; it was damp and slick with salt-melted snows and the wind was gusting between the buildings, funneled down the streets. She'd used English, from instinct perhaps, since Shadow wore nothing to identify him as American or British. That was fine; his French wasn't that good. "No. You're not."
He watched her, seeing the marks of a temper in her flush, in the barely-leashed impatience of her shoulders-forward stance, in the boots with their spotted leather. He also saw the shards and shreds of a barely-begun compulsion lying in the scattered salt and shook his head, a little annoyed.
"That's why I'm here." She didn't try again, at least, but she was watching him more carefully now. Great. Now she noticed he was a person, not just a job?
Shadow just shook his head. "Then you've wasted your time. I don't want help. It costs too much."
He didn't understand what she said to his back, but that was all right too. His hide stayed unscratched. He preferred it that way. Just as he preferred both eyes in his own head.
For a seer, he wasn't sure how well her eyes worked. Maybe she'd cut a sharper -- and -- lesser bargain than his father.